How Much Retirement Income Do You Need? Another Take

Last Updated Jul 1, 2010 3:54 PM EDT

There are many ways to answer the question of how much retirement income one needs, as I've written about previously. Many financial planners say you need a retirement income of 70 percent to 100 percent of your pay just before retirement. Then they back into the size of the retirement nest egg that you need to generate such an income, and the answer is a gazillion dollars. At that point, your natural reaction might be to think "I'm doomed" and give up.

But don't give up. You might find a better way by reading my MoneyWatch colleague Linda Stern's recent post Money Can Buy Happiness: Here's a Shopping List. She cites research on the relationship of money and happiness, and she lists several ways to deploy your money wisely to increase your happiness.

It turns out that most of her list doesn't involve spending much money. I've long contended that what people really want is to be happy in their retirement years. They don't necessarily need to duplicate their current lifestyle, which is implied by the conventional financial wisdom cited above.

So think long and hard about what makes you happy, and then figure out how much annual income you need to get this happiness. Now when you back into the retirement nest egg that you need, you might find you don't need a gazillion dollars after all. And if you have to work a little to make ends meet, you might still find ways to be happy.

So this weekend when you're barbecuing and spending time with your friends and family, reflect on whether you want more of these moments in your retirement years, and how much they might cost.

Happy Fourth!

More on CBS MoneyWatch:
How Much Retirement Income Do You Need?
How Much Retirement Savings Do You Need?
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    For more than 35 years, consulting actuary Steve Vernon helped large employers design and manage their retirement programs. Now he's a Research Scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, where he helps collect, direct, and disseminate research that will improve the financial security of seniors. He also delivers retirement planning workshops and has authored Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck and Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years.

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